|Former Bruins Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart well-traveled, but happy to be Jets||11.26.11 at 12:53 pm ET|
“It was a weird feeling,” Stuart, who was traded along with Wheeler to Atlanta last February in the Rich Peverley deal, said of watching the playoffs. “Happy for those guys, happy when they won, and it’s also tough. It’s really tough to watch, because you want to be there and you want to be part of it.”
Said Wheeler: “It was gratifying, but it was hard at the same time. You want to be a part of it, but you certainly take something out of it, just watching the guys that you played with for a few years. That was the hardest part of getting traded. Stewie and I both knew it was a very real possibility that that was going to happen. To see it come true was certainly a mixed bag of emotions for sure. Definitely happy for all the guys. They certainly work harder than anyone, and they deserved it.”
The two have now settled in with the Jets, as the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg over the summer. All that moving kept the players busy, but they didn’t mind having to move twice.
“I think it’s been easier for me than some of these guys,” Stuart said. “I wasn’t in Atlanta for too long, so it wasn’t really like I got settled in there. I stayed in a hotel there, so when we moved to Winnipeg, it was almost like Boston to Winnipeg in a sense because I didn’t really have enough time to get settled in Atlanta.”
Winnipeg has 22 points on the season, good for fourth in the Southeast conference, but they’re just three points out of being in the top eight. Stuart has two goals and four assists for six points this season, while Wheeler has just one goal and 10 assists for 11 points.
“Mark Stuart is a guy that plays with a lot of bite for us, and his aggressive nature,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said Saturday morning. “He’s a guy that plays with his heart more than on his sleeve, he plays with his heart, period. It shows on our team. He’s part of our leadership group, a big part of it. He exemplifies a lot of what our team needs to be, and that’s just a hard-working group that plays hard and plays for the team. He’s been really good for us. He’s been really excellent for us.
“Blake got off to a little frustrating start. He didn’t score a whole lot, so he’s been trying to find his game to a degree. He’s been way better over the last four or five games. He’s got really good speed. He can really take pucks to the net. He’s a guy that can create offense, and he’s been good as well, especially lately he’s been really good. He’s found a little bit more of a niche in our lineup. For us he’s an offensive guy that we can rely on.”
The Jets certainly don’t have the star power of the Bruins, but the players hope they’re trending upwards. They both have experience playing on a rising team, as Stuart, the team’s first-round pick in the 2003 draft, played with the team in the dark, non-playoff days of 2005-06 and 2006-07. Wheeler came in following the team’s first playoff appearance in three years and saw the B’s become a more serious contender in each of his three seasons in Boston. He hopes the same can happen in Winnipeg.
“Just being in that organization, you know what it takes,” Wheeler said of Boston. “They do everything right, and when you go to a new organization, you kind of try to bring some of that with you, kind of knowing what it takes to go all the way. Just making the playoffs is a huge first step for us. Just a few years ago, [Boston] was kind of in the same boat, trying to bring itself up, make the playoffs. They did it a few years in a row, and look at them now.”
|Winnipeg Jets reveal logos||07.22.11 at 5:31 pm ET|
Good new, Bruins fans. When Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart roll into town on Nov. 26, they’ll actually be wearing jerseys. After going logo-less since the Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg, the Jets on Friday revealed their new logos.
The logo isn’t exactly reminiscent of the olden days, but it certainly gets this scribe’s approval. Images courtesy of NHL.com.
|Penguins sign Boris Valabik||07.03.11 at 1:59 pm ET|
The Bruins lost another free agent on Sunday, and though the player was big, the loss could hardly be described as such. The Penguins inked defenseman Boris Valabik, who was acquired with Rich Peverley in the Feb. 18 deal with Atlanta, to a one-year, two way deal on the third day of free agency.
Given the results it yielded, it would be hard not to give Bruins general manager two thumbs up for trading Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta in a deal that landed the B’s Peverley. Yet Valabik proved to be nothing more than a throw-in in the deal, playing 10 games for Providence and totaling two assists and 24 penalty minutes. He had a minus-1 rating with the Baby B’s.
Valabik was chosen 10th overall by the Thrashers in the 2004 draft, but has made a minimal impact on the big stage since. He’s skated in 80 games, all of which were with the Thrashers, and totaled seven points (all assists) and 210 penalty minutes. At 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, the Slovakia native is one of the biggest players in the league. He once fought the biggest when he took on fellow countryman and hero Zdeno Chara back in 2008.
|Rich Peverley: ‘Hockey could work’ in Atlanta||06.01.11 at 12:14 am ET|
The Bruins swung a deal for Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik on their day of retooling on Feb. 18, though the speedy forward was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta. Now, Peverley’s Atlanta teammates officially know that they’ll be playing in Winnepeg next year due to relocation of the team. Peverley said he’s been in touch throughout the process.
“I think a few guys are disappointed,” Peverley. “They really enjoyed the city, but at the same time, they’re going to have to move on, and I think a lot of guys are excited about the opportunity to play in a Canadian market. That’s going to bring a lot of passionate hockey to the city, and I think they’re really excited about that.”
Peverley still has another deal remaining on his contract, so he would have been a part of the team’s relocation unless he was dealt away. He seems clearly disappointed that the franchise with which he played parts of the last three seasons couldn’t stay where it was, but he also understands it.
“I think it’s a tough market if you’re not winning,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of hockey fans there that might be other fans and not necessarily Thrashers fans, so I think hockey could work in that city, but when you make the playoffs one out of 10 years, you put yourself behind the 8-ball a little bit.”
One reason for the relocation you shouldn’t rule out: Perhaps it’s just because the Peverley Hillbillies stopped giving the team their money after Feb. 18.
“I don’t know,” Peverley said with a laugh. “I have no idea [what happened to them].”
|Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘I’m not going to miss Blake Wheeler’||02.23.11 at 12:52 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Looking at the Bruins’ recent flurry of moves, Milbury said he’ll miss defenseman Mark Stuart ‘ “a great depth defenseman and a terrific guy and a character guy” ‘ who was sent to the Thrashers. However, he isn’t lamenting the loss of Blake Wheeler, also sent to Atlanta. “I’m not going to miss Blake Wheeler,” Milbury said. “I thought he was a near-miss ‘ a near-miss when he went to hit a guy, a near-miss when he went to shoot a puck. It looked like he was a ball of energy, but when the moment of truth came, he came up short for me. That was a hole that needed to be patched.”
Added Milbury: “I think Peter Chiarelli did a great job in acquiring character players. I think the third and fourth lines for the Bruins, however they construct them right now, will be as good as anybody else’s third and fourth lines in the National Hockey League. The defense is solid. The [Tomas] Kaberle addition brings them the puck-moving guy that they wanted. I still wish they had somebody else that could deliver it to the net with some authority, but I’m certainly not going to complain about that.”
Milbury said the Bruins’ success will come down to this: “Are the top six forwards on the Bruins good enough to get it done?”
One of the players giving the B’s reason for hope is winger Brad Marchand. “His assets are significant,” Milbury said. “He’s got great speed. He’s got courage ‘ he’s totally unafraid to go where he needs to go. He’s got a terrific shot. I’m not really prepared to say how well he sees the whole ice, he sees it well enough. He’s put himself in position for people to say ‘ obviously, time will tell, but it looks like he could be a top-six forward.”
Looking elsewhere around the league, the Devils are red hot ‘ eight straight wins and a 16-1-2 record in their last 19 games ‘ and Milbury said he’s pulling for them to resurrect their season and make the playoffs, with a caveat. “I don’t know that they’re going to make it, but I sure hope they do,” he said. “I hope they make it and get knocked out in the first round, because they’re still boring as hell.”
|Source: Bruins trade Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart for Rich Peverley, Boris Valabik||02.18.11 at 1:30 pm ET|
According to a source, the Bruins have swung a deal with the Thrashers that will send forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart to Atlanta in exchange for center Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik. TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report the deal.
Peverley, 28, has another year remaining on his contract that carries a cap hit of $1.325. He has 14 goals and 20 assists this season for 34 points. Wheeler has 11 goals and 16 assists on the season for 27 points. He will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.
Stuart, set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, has one goal and four assists for five points in 31 games. He missed time this season due to a fractured and dislocated finger and was relegated to being a healthy scratch upon his return. Valabik, a 6-foot-7, 255 pound blueliner, was the 10th overall pick of the 2004 NHL draft.
[UPDATE: 2:33 p.m.] The Bruins have confirmed the deal.
|Steven Kampfer says scratch vs. Red Wings was ‘for good reason’||02.15.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
Despite not even playing, Steven Kampfer was a popular topic Sunday. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Kampfer was expecting upwards of 40 people to attend Sunday’s game against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. His parents even flew in from Florida.
While friends and family bought tickets to see Kampfer play at the arena he once attended as a fan, the 22-year-old rookie was scratched for the game as a result of recent struggles. Kampfer touched on the surprise scratch prior to Tuesday’s game.
“It was for good reason,” Kampfer said of Claude Julien‘s decision. “I wasn’t happy with my game [either]. It’s to help me out in the long run. One game is not going to hurt with me sitting out, so I got a good perspective on sitting out and watching the game.”
Kampfer was driving to Detroit from Ann Arbor with his parents on Saturday when he was notified that he would not be playing. He then had the undesirable task of notifying his family and friends via text that he was out of the lineup.
“Obviously you’re disappointed and you want to play,” Kampfer said of his initial reaction. “You want to play every game. At the same time, when I got to the rink the next morning and talked to Claude, it was a good meeting. It was one of those things where we both thought it was a good idea for me to sit back, learn some things, and maybe get a different perspective on the game. I definitely did. We talked this morning as well, so it was good.”
After impressing and being handed substantial minutes following his Dec. 9 NHL debut, Kampfer’s play had dipped. With the likes of Mark Stuart pushing to get in the lineup, the rookie said without hesitation that though he didn’t feel he was “getting comfortable,” the scratch was beneficial.
“I think you go through your ups and downs, and that’s when I think I got down on myself and wasn’t helping this team as much. I think to sit back and take a game and realize what I could do better for the long run will be very helpful for this team and myself,” he said. “More importantly, you want to learn because you want to make this team win.”
Kampfer expects to be in the lineup Tuesday night vs. the Maple Leafs.